May 15, 2012

May 15, 2012

WALLER – A woman is dead and a man is hurt after a Columbia County shooting this morning.  Police and ambulance crews rushed out this morning to an area in Columbia County for an alleged double shooting incident. The shooting was reported around 9:30 a.m. at 204 Coles Creek Mill Road in Sugarloaf Township, near the village of Waller.  Investigators said it appears there was an argument and the man shot the woman and then shot himself.  The woman died. The man survived and was taken to Geisinger Medical Center.  His condition has not been released.  Neither the woman nor the man has been identified.  A relative of the man said the two were boyfriend and girlfriend.
(WGRC/WNEP)

BELLEFONTE - A former Centre County bank manager has agreed to plead guilty to embezzling funds while on the job.  40-year old Kimberly Laird, was accused of stealing just over $78,500 from the Bellefonte branch of PNC Bank through various means between January 2005 and November 2011.  U.S. Attorney Peter J. Smith tells the Centre Daily Times, Laird opened credit cards in her father’s name without authorization, made redemptions from certificates of deposit accounts of five customers and opened checking accounts in other names to write checks for paying her personal bills and other expenses.  Laird faces a maximum of 10 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000 and a three-year term of supervised release. Under the terms of the plea agreement, Laird agreed to pay restitution.
(WGRC)

MILTON — A 17-year-old Milton girl was killed Monday afternoon when the car she was riding in collided with the locomotive of a North Shore freight train in a driving rainstorm at the Center Street railroad crossing in Milton. The Northumberland County Coroner pronounced 17-year-old Maxine Eschbach, dead at the scene around 5:30 p.m. The car, driven by a 16-year-old girl whose name was not released by police, was traveling west on Center Street at about 4:30 p.m. when it was hit by the train. The driver of the car was taken to Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, where she was listed in serious, but stable condition. Police on the scene gave no reason why the crash happened. Reports say after the impact, the train engineer tried to brake, but the car was pushed about two blocks, before it became dislodged, just south of Mahoning Street. An investigation continues by the Milton Police Department, the coroner’s office and district attorney’s office.
(WGRC)

PATTERSONVILLE – A woman was trapped inside her car for about an hour Monday afternoon after it collided head-on with an SUV on Ringtown Boulevard in Union Township, Schuylkill County. Police say Samantha Foresman of Ringtown slammed into the vehicle driven by William Navitsky of Shenandoah. Foresman had to be cut free of the wreckage. Both were taken to Geisinger Medical Center. Police say they are continuing their investigation. Foresman remains in critical condition while Navitsky is in fair condition.
Jim Diehl (WGRC)

DUSHORE – A Sullivan County man is dead after falling under his lawn tractor. Police say a passer-by found 84-year-old Max Kilmer, of Dushore, lying on the ground near the intersection of Conners Road and Dutch Mountain Road in Cherry Township around three Sunday afternoon. Kilmer was taken to Towanda Memorial Hospital with several severe lacerations after his lawn tractor rolled over him. He was pronounced dead at the hospital.
Jim Diehl (WGRC)

LAPORTE – A Sullivan County man was hurt when he lost control of the steam roller he was operating and went 90 feet down over an embankment. That happened Friday along Route 2003 near Laprote. Police say 52-year-old Fred Rundle of Laprote suffered moderate injuries in the crash.
Jim Diehl (WGRC)

WILLIAMSPORT - The arsonist who has been plaguing the Newberry section of Williamsport since early April, setting nine fires, has worked at night - usually between 2 and 4 a.m. But that changed Saturday when a fire was set outside of the home at 2734 Dove Street sometime between 10:30 a.m. and 7 p.m. The home owner had been doing some spring cleaning and added trash to the trash pile near his shed around 10:30 a.m. At about 7 p.m., he noticed that a cardboard box in the trash pile had fire damage and reported the incident to city police. Because the home owner had been near the trash pile earlier in the morning, fire investigators have determined that it is the first Newberry arson fire set in the daylight hours. Fortunately the box smoldered and burned itself out. Anyone who notices unexplained fire damage to their property, or sees a fire, is encouraged to call authorities immediately.
(WGRC)

SUNBURY — Nearly four years after a Watsontown man sexually assaulted an 11-year-old girl, a Northumberland County judge dropped the hammer and sentenced him to up to five years in a state prison Monday. Twenty-seven –year-old Jethro Groff, entered Judge Charles Saylor’s courtroom a free man but left in handcuffs after he was sentenced to six months to five years in prison. He pleaded no contest to statutory sexual assault. The Daily Item reports, the charges against Groff allegedly stemmed from incidents in the summer of 2008 and in February 2009.
(WGRC)

BENTON — Rescued from a home where a boy sexually assaulted them, two small children told of even more abuse after their foster mother had allegedly molested them, held their heads under water and assaulted them with a tennis racket. The Press enterprise reports 47-year-old Luella Mengine, of Benton, was locked up yesterday. State Police say last year, the children were sexually assaulted by a 13-year-old foster brother. He was charged in January, and the youngsters, a seven–year-old girl and a five-year-old boy, were taken out of the home and given to Mengine. Mengine appeared Monday before District Judge Doug Brewer who sent her to jail on $100,000 bail.
(WGRC)

SUNBURY – A Sunbury man is charged with burglary to support his synthetic drug habit. Police say 48-year-old Ray Wolever was brought before a judge and told the judge he broke into Potter’s Garage on Vine Street in Sunbury and stole a small amount of cash and inspection stickers to support his habit. The break-in happened late Sunday afternoon.
(WGRC)

BERWICK - Berwick police are looking for two men in connection with an early Friday morning house fire on Summerhill Avenue. Arrest warrants have been issued for 30- year-old Robert Fowler and 21- year-old Perry Harmon. It's believed they were cooking meth in the basement of the apartment when the mixture exploded catching the apartment on fire. The fire forced eight people from the home.
(WGRC)

DANVILLE — In Montour County, Police say a Bloomsburg man stole $144,000 from his grandmother who is in a nursing home. The Press Enterprise reports, 44-year-old Anthony Morgante took the money while he served as power of attorney, and now his grandmother may be kicked out of the Vintage Knolls nursing center due to unpaid bills. Morgante faces 78 felony counts and was jailed under $250,000 cash bail. Police say Morgante issued checks to himself from his grandmother’s accounts between January 2009 and September 2011. The matter was referred to the Columbia-Montour Area Agency on Aging, which used a Certified Fraud Examiner to investigate.
(WGRC)

SELINSGROVE – A waitress at a popular restaurant in Snyder County is being charged with forgery and theft. Police have charged 21-year-old Andrea Dietz of Danville for incidents between March 22 and May 11th. Police say Dietz worked for the Red robin restaurant at Monroe market place and racked up nearly $150 in tips to herself which she forged on receipts. Police say the restaurant is in the process of refunding the 56 patrons their money.
Jim Diehl (WGRC)

MIFFLINBURG – A Mifflinburg man is jailed in the Union County prison on an arrest warrant for failing to show in court on a traffic issue and resisting police during his arrest. Twenty-nine-year-old Amir Deas is jailed on $10,000 bail. Police say Deas failed to appear for a traffic hearing at nine Monday morning in Selinsgrove. Police went to his Chestnut Street, Mifflinburg home to pick him up on a warrant and that’s when he became defensive but complied after police threatened to use a taser on him.
Jim Diehl (WGRC)

BELLEFONTE — A Bellefonte man is suing the Howard man who drove up beside him on state Route 64 in December 2009 and opened fire, seriously injuring him with the third of three gunshots into his vehicle. The Centre Daily Times reports, 26-year-old Matthew Ross filed a civil lawsuit against 39-year-old Randall Brooks in county court last week. He’s suing him for negligence and punitive damages. Ross’ suit also seeks damages against Brooks’ father, Daniel. Brooks was convicted in April of attempted homicide and other charges including stalking, witness intimidation and jury tampering. Police say Ross was on his way to work around 5 a.m. in December 2009, when Brooks pulled up to his vehicle on Route 64, fired three shots and sped off. The third shot hit Ross’ shoulder. Authorities have said Brooks was obsessed with a former girlfriend and saw Ross, who had just started dating the woman, as a romantic rival. Ross’ lawsuit alleges Brooks was negligent in firing the gun, and Daniel Brooks was negligent, too, on the grounds that he let his son Randall use his firearm and vehicle to commit the shooting. Randall Brooks is scheduled for sentencing June 28 in front of Judge Bradley Lunsford.
(WGRC)

BERWICK — A pet sitter found 33 dogs and 14 cats living in filth at the home of Berwick's animal control officer, leading to her sudden resignation last week. Jinece Loughry was out of town to get training when the friend she called to take care of her pets called the Animal Resource Center for help. The Press Enterprise reports, Loughry plans to become a Pennsylvania humane officer. Loughry says she's definitely moving out of Berwick. Meanwhile, frustrated council members said they might do away with the animal control post altogether. They're also considering a new law limiting how many four-legged pets residents can keep. Some animal advocates had complained to council in March that Loughry was hoarding animals and neglecting other aspects of her job. All of the dogs and cats except for five dogs were sent to other animal shelters.
(WGRC)

UNDATED — The heavy, steady rainfall that began yesterday will continue through most of today. Our area received a little over three-quarters of an inch of rain yesterday and more could cause some minor flooding in areas with poor drainage. However we still need about two-and-three-quarters of an inch of rain to meet the normal total rainfall for the year. We could make up some of the deficit as there is a 100 percent chance of rain today into tonight.
Jim Diehl (WGRC)

SELINSGROVE — Taxes will go up 1.3 mills under the Selinsgrove Area School District’s proposed final $35.96 million budget for 2012-13 that also includes eliminating 20 teaching positions. The proposed spending plan was unanimously approved Monday night by the school board. Adoption is set for June 25th. The school board has been making cuts since the initial released of the budget indicated a deficit of more than one million dollars. To balance the budget, the board approved the real estate tax increase which would hike the average tax bill by about $35.
(WGRC)

MIDDLEBURG - Midd-West School District will have two fewer schools next year. With a couple hundred people watching Monday, the Midd-West School Board voted to close West Beaver and Perry-West Perry elementary schools. The school board members narrowly split, voting 5-4 in favor of closing the buildings. Next year, children in the western part of Snyder County will attend West Snyder Middle School in Beaver Springs, which will become a school for pupils in kindergarten through grade five. Middleburg Elementary School also will house students in grades K-5. Eighth graders will move to the high school, and all sixth- and seventh-grade students will attend Middleburg Middle School. The district also will reduce its staff by about 30 positions. Board President Nancy Kroh says state budget cuts will have a ripple effect for the next three to five years. If the board did not cut its budget this year, the district would be in even worse shape next year. Closing the two schools is the result of a $2.3 million budget deficit for 2012-2013 at Midd-West. Though the proposed $31 million budget was presented Monday, it failed to pass after seven school board members voted against it. The board must approve a final budget by June 30. The current budget includes a tax increase of about 4 percent.
(WGRC)

WILLIAMSPORT – Williamsport officials are hoping that soon, there will be plenty of things to do within the city. Yesterday, Mayor Campana unveiled plans for an outdoor entertainment district. That would encompass the possibility of a multi-purpose arena for sports and other large gatherings, as well as a waiver to allow establishments to host outdoor music. The first step is to get city council to approve a revised noise ordinance which is needed by the state’s liquor control board in order to get that waiver. City officials are hoping to get that ordinance on the council agenda at their end of month meeting.
(WGRC)

BLOOMSBURG — The federal government is strongly considering buying out 14 properties in Bloomsburg including 11 houses in the flood-ravaged 900 block of West Main Street. The Press Enterprise reports, the government has moved most of that block to the next phase of its buyout process. Also moving to the next phase is property at 1051 Fort McClure Boulevard; 260 West 12th Street; and 531 West Third Street. If the buyouts are OK'd, the federal government will cover 75 percent of the cost, the state will cover 22 percent and the town will have to cover the remaining 3 percent. The two buyout applications total around $2.6 million. The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency expects paperwork on the buyouts will take until at least September. PEMA has determined three houses that applied in the 600 block of West Main will be pushed back for consideration because those sites were not substantially damaged.
(WGRC)

SUNBURY — The City of Sunbury is going ahead with its plan to buy back nine acres at the north edge of town, which was targeted for mobile home development. City Council gave its approval Monday night to a $90,000 loan from Northumberland National Bank, at a 2.5% percent fixed rate over ten years. A 2011 court decision blocked the development by Robert Yoder, who bought the tracts from the city in the late 1980′s. Mayor David Persing saw the potential of mobile homes near the city’s recreation complex as a threat to its value.
(WGRC)

BLOOMSBURG — Bloomsburg chose a familiar face as its new top manager last night. Forty-year-old Bill Lowthert IV, who has worked with council as a consultant with SEDA-COG was chosen as the man for the job. The Press Enterprise reports, Lowthert, a Bloomsburg native, has served as the town's adviser on its federal Community Development Block Grant program for nearly seven years. Lowthert is replacing Ron Mull, who lasted less than nine weeks on the job and cost the town a $26,000 investigation. Council voted 6-0 to appoint Lowthert. Lowthert currently works as a senior program analyst in SEDA-COG's community development arm.
(WGRC)

HUMMELS WHARF – A quick trip to the doctor is exactly that, for a new clinic which opened last week in Snyder County. The new MedExpress chain opened their offices Thursday, in Hummels Wharf, at the home of the former SuperPetz store. The urgent care facility is open from nine a.m. till nine p.m. and treats people of all ages for illnesses ranging from colds, flu, to stitches and broken limbs. They offer x-ray, labs, EKG’s IV fluids immunizations and more. No appointments are taken and individuals are treated on a first come–first serve basis. Company officials tell the Daily Item an average visit last about 45 minutes.
(WGRC)

STATE COLLEGE – State College Borough officials were notified about anticipated repairs and upgrades to parking facilities, including plans for a new $20 million garage last night. Parking Manager Charles DeBow outlined a timeframe for work at several sites throughout downtown State College, which he said are necessary because of the aging infrastructure and increase in demand. The parking garage on Pugh Street is one that looks to be under the gun for replacement in 2018. Nearly $3 million in upgrades and repairs to the Fraser Street and Beaver Avenue garages, as well as the McAllister parking deck are anticipated through 2017.
(WGRC)

HARRISBURG - To recognize Pennsylvania nursing homes that excel in complying with state regulations, the Department of Health Monday awarded four facilities the state’s new “Award for Excellence in Health Care Compliance.” The Department of Health’s Division of Nursing Care Facilities is responsible for the licensing and oversight of 713 nursing homes statewide. The division conducts approximately 5,000 inspections annually, including licensure and certification surveys, follow-up surveys and complaint investigations. One facility in our region won the award. The Schuylkill Center at 1000 Schuylkill Manor Road, Pottsville, Schuylkill County was one of four facilities that received the honor.
(WGRC)

HARRISBURG - It could be slim pickings at the farmers market this summer when it comes to early peaches, cherries and apricots. Blame the erratic spring weather. Summerlike temperatures in March prompted fruit trees to bloom a few weeks early, only for the fruit blossoms to be zapped by a few nights of frost. But, the weather wasn’t enough to wipe out the entire crop. Mark O’Neill, spokesman for the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau says orchard growers were hardest hit as were vineyards. Some orchard owners in Adams County have lost between 30 percent and 40 percent of viable blossoms off their apple trees. O’Neill says one farmer reported 90 percent losses with apricots, while other orchard owners have said they might have lost between 10 percent and 20 percent of the cherry crops. The losses could make for shortages of fruit and higher prices.
(WGRC)